Evening Standard – 7 February 2017
Sonia Boyce: We Move In Her Way, review: A curious power play at work
“Mitchener is a distinctive presence and interacts with her body and the remarkable sounds she produces: speech, soulful singing, breathless percussive bursts, skittering across octaves.”
This video installation leaves its audience with more questions than answers.
Metal and ribbons: The dancers move with Gamper’s sculptures
This video installation is based on a performance that took place at the ICA some months ago. Sonia Boyce asked the vocalist Elaine Mitchener and the choreographer and sculptor Barbara Gamper (with three dancers) to devise performances. Thrown into the mix were about 50 audience members, wearing masks partly inspired by those made by Dada artist Sophie Taeuber-Arp in 1920.
With no instructions, everyone must improvise, embrace chance — a very Dada idea in itself. The dancers move with each other and Gamper’s sculptures, made from geometric metal forms with ribbons of pink and orange silk. The audience join them, sometimes in intimate connections, playing with the ribbons, at others in isolation. Mitchener is a distinctive presence and interacts with her body and the remarkable sounds she produces: speech, soulful singing, breathless percussive bursts, skittering across octaves.
Boyce’s role is in editing it all together on various screens and in the wallpaper pattern that surrounds them, made up of repeated stills from the film. A curious power play is at work — hence the title, which could allude to either instruction or obstruction. Boyce explores the nature of collaboration: is she in control, even though her involvement begins when the performance is finished? Where does the art lie in all this? Where does the work begin and end?
I suspect she’s happy for us to leave with more questions than answers.